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A case of consent

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • i It would not remove the risk altogether. In the only published instance of harm from medical case reports of which we are aware, a patient complained to the General Medical Council after a friend recognised her in a psychiatric case report to which she had consented.6 In that case, the General Medical Council found the psychiatrists not guilty of professional misconduct because the patient had provided consent.7

  • ii We should note that we do not have the consent of the first family to mention their discussions about consent with de Vos and colleagues. Nevertheless, we judged that here our criteria for publication in the absence of consent apply: only the individuals concerned could identify themselves, harm is likely non-existent and there is a significant public interest in discussion of the issues.

  • iii We have focused in this editorial on patient consent. We do not regard it as usually necessary to obtain the consent of professionals who may be mentioned in a case report even if they may recognise themselves. Consent would be required if there is a possibility that the physician (or other professional) would be able to be identified with confidence by a third party.

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